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The Right shifts from ‘it’s a real crisis’ to ‘let grandpa die for the economy’ almost overnight

[Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick]

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

[Regarding this article: Texas Lt. Gov.: Grandparents would be willing to die to save the economy]

Over the weekend the discourse on the Right coldly shifted from “Yes, we finally agree this is pretty serious” to “Y’know, the elderly are gonna die soon anyway and I was hoping my 401K would be around longer.”

And now the Lt. Gov of Texas just said pretty much that, out loud, and somehow worse.

That’s where the pro-life party is right now in the midst of a genuine pandemic, doing cost-benefit analyses and finding senior citizens expendable. (As an aside: are they aware who keeps them in office? Do they know who watches Fox News?)

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It’s fair to point out that societies trade lives for economic efficiency all the time, the clearest example being the speed limit. Approximately 40,000 people each year lose their lives in a car in the US, a number which would surely drop if he we cut the speed limit in half.

But there are 227 million drivers in the US, so our chances of being one of those 40,000 deaths is quite small — something like one one-thousandth of a percent. Plus, we possess some degree of control to increase our odds, such as by obeying traffic laws and not driving drunk.

But still, we would probably save, what, 20,000 lives if we dropped the speed limit to, say, 35 mph? We won’t, because we’ve deemed the 40,000 death figure an acceptable risk to get us where we’re going at 75 miles per hour. That’s who we are, for good or ill.

I mention this because the Right is throwing around a lot of misleading statistics in an effort to conflate the risk of dying from COVID-19 with the risk of dying from almost anything else, pretending that any five-figure cause of death is roughly equivalent.

But they’re not roughly equivalent. A 1 percent mortality rate for a virus this contagious means that you’ll almost certainly know someone personally to die from this virus — perhaps a parent or grandparent — if mitigation steps are ignored or even relaxed, which is the direction Trump is now leaning.

It’s nauseating to think that if we’re able to accept a 1 percent morality rate of a highly transmissible virus as an acceptable risk in deference to the stock market, that’s simply who we are.

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